Children's Literature Reviews for Teaching History

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Saturday, February 19, 2011

Selling Hope

Title: Selling Hope 
Author: Kristin O'Donnell Tubb

**An interview with Kristin O'Donnell Tubb can be found here.**

Category: Historical Fiction
Topic: Vaudeville, Life in the Early 1900's
Grade Level: 5
Students: Mostly strong readers with just a few struggling or reluctant readers

Rating by: Joyce Lansky from Tennessee
Joyce is a teacher and writer.  Check out her blog at:

Historically Accurate?
(4) Yes and also includes historical notes, primary sources, etc.
(3) Yes
(2) A few inaccurate or misleading portrayals
(1) Not a bit

An Engaging Story?
(4) Almost all students will beg to keep reading
(3) Most students will get caught up in the story
(2) Some students will read ahead by mistake
(1) Students will groan when the book is mentioned

Prompts Discussion?
(4) Students will still be talking about it in the hallway
(3) Will prompt discussion about major issues in the past as well as today
(2) Will prompt discussion about the characters and the events in the book
(1) Will not prompt discussion

(4) Everyone - even the most reluctant readers – can get on board
(3) Can be used for a whole class read*
(2) Can only be used with a small high-powered reading group
(1) Recommend only to students that love reading
* This would work well as a read aloud, too.

Age Appropriate Content?
____Too mature
_X__Just right
____Too simplistic

A Comment from Joyce Lansky: 
"I enjoyed getting a peek of life in 1910 through the eyes of Hope McDaniels, the thirteen-year-old main character of "Selling Hope" by Kristin O'Donnell Tubb. In her book, "Coins," or people of Chicago, line up to buy flour coated mints passed off as anti-comet pills that will protect the user from dying from the gases given off from the tail of Haley's comet. This book uses real newspaper headlines to show the lead up to this historic non-event while at the same time, allowing the reader a glimpse of the Vaudeville life along with real stars such as Buster Keaton. The writing is beautiful as is the story of this young girl and her relationship with her father."

Amazon's Product Description:  
"It’s May 1910, and Halley’s Comet is due to pass thru the Earth’s atmosphere. And thirteen-year-old Hope McDaniels and her father are due to pass through their hometown of Chicago with their ragtag vaudeville troupe.  Hope wants out of vaudeville, and longs for a “normal” life—or as normal as life can be without her mother, who died five years before. Hope sees an opportunity: She invents “anti-comet” pills to sell to the working-class customers desperate for protection. Soon, she’s joined by a fellow troupe member, young Buster Keaton, and the two of them start to make good money. And just when Hope thinks she has all the answers, she has to decide: What is family? Where is home?"

Link to reviews on Amazon
Link to the website of the author: Kristin O'Donnell Tubb
Buy this book from your local bookstore via Indie Bound

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